Russia's Polyus shares down on Kerimov's detention

Russian billionaire Kerimov detained by French police in tax fraud case

Kerimov sold Anzhi past year.

The Kremlin was battling today to secure the release of a billionaire Russian politician who was detained by French police in Nice early this week on suspicion of tax evasion.

"He is being held for questioning in a case related to laundering of tax fraud proceeds", the official said. Thursday, November 23, the court chose to release Karimov, if he will pay the bail of five million euros. However, the French authorities said Mr Kerimov was paying a private visit to France and was therefore not eligible for diplomatic immunity.

Kerimov's family now controls Russia's largest gold producer Polyus, where his son is the legal owner of the majority stake.

"We will do everything in our power to protect his lawful interests", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "Intensive work is now being undertaken by the foreign ministry".

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The Russian foreign ministry has sent a note of protest to the French authorities arguing that as a high-ranking official Mr Kerimov has immunity from prosecution overseas, according to Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament. Polyus declined to comment.

Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 television station reported that Kerimov denies guilt. It was not immediately clear if a lawyer had been hired to represent Kerimov in France. But the French Foreign Ministry has said it is up to the judge in the case to decide whether Kerimov will be protected by his diplomatic status. Shares in the company fell after news of his arrest broke.

Originally from the mainly Muslim Russian region of Dagestan, Kerimov built his lucrative natural resources business through a combination of debt, an appetite for risk, and political connections.

He also owns Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala football club.

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